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Emotional Distress in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes can give your loved one the physical care they need on a daily basis, but sometimes this comes at the cost of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse in nursing homes can take many forms, such as threats, taunting, emotional detachment, and denying needs, requests, or access to loved ones.

It is common for nursing home residents to suffer some stress during their adjustment period, but if emotional distress persists, you may want to investigate.

Here are some signs of nursing home abuse to look for:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Despair
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of interest
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

If you notice these signs, it’s important to talk to your loved one without any of the nursing home staff around. You should also address your concerns with multiple members of the nursing home staff. This not only increases the chances that your concerns will be noted, it also means that multiple people will be looking out for your loved one and may be able to intervene against the abuser when you are not around.

Finally, it’s always helpful to visit your loved one regularly. Be supportive. Engage your loved one in favorite activities. Encourage them to participate in activities at the nursing home, and maybe even participate with them, if allowed. When possible, make sure they get out of the nursing home for excursions. Sometimes, being out of the environment will help them speak about the existence of abuse.

If You Suspect Abuse

If you know of abuse or strongly suspect it, you should contact the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) and report your concern. You should also contact Cullan & Cullan in Phoenix, Arizona for a free consultation about your rights.


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